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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 12:53 GMT
Bush interview: Key points
George Bush and Tony Blair
Bush's visit is a time to reaffirm shared values, Mr Blair believes
Here are the key points of US President George W Bush's interview on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

President Bush on coming on a state visit:

"I'm looking forward to it. It's a huge honour to be invited by Her Majesty to stay in Buckingham Palace. It's hard to imagine me even considering staying in Buckingham Palace when I was living in Midland, Texas. Buckingham Palace has got a tremendous mystique to it.

On the protests that anti-war activists plan for his visit:

"Well, freedom is a beautiful thing, I would first say, and it's, aren't you lucky to be in a country that encourages people to speak their mind? And I value going to a country where people are free to say anything they want to say.

"Secondly, I would say that I understand you don't like war, and neither do I. But I would hope you understand that I have learned the lessons of 11 September 2001, and that terrorists declared war on the United States of America and war on people that love freedom, and I intend to lead our nation, along with others, like our close friends in Great Britain, to win this war on terror.

"That war is my last choice, not my first choice, but I have obligation as the president to keep our country secure."

Mr Bush on Tony Blair:

"Tony is a man of strong faith. You know, the key to my relationship with Tony is he tells the truth and he tells you what he thinks. And when he says he's going to do something, he's going to do it. I trust him, therefore. I have seen him - under some tough, tough circumstances - stand strong, and I appreciate that in a person.

"The other thing I admire about Tony Blair is that he has got a vision beyond the current - in other words, he can see a world that is peaceful. And he agrees with me that the spread of democracy and freedom in parts of the world where there's violence and hatred will help change the world, that there are reformers in the Middle East that long for democracy, that long to live in a free world."

Mr Bush on the fight against terror:

"There are terrorists who are willing to kill innocent life in order to create fear and chaos. There are terrorists who want the free world to retreat from duties so that they can impose Taliban-type governments and enslave people. There are people like Saddam Hussein, who tortured and maimed and killed, and at the same time threatened and created conditions of instability."

On the US's opponents over the war in Europe, Germany and France:

"We're not going to agree on every issue, but a Europe which works closely with America and an America which works closely with Europe means the world will be better off."

On the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

"I think our intelligence was sound and I know the British intelligence was sound. It's the same intelligence that caused the United Nations to pass resolution after resolution after resolution. It's the same intelligence that was used by my predecessor to bomb Iraq. And I'm very confident that we got good intelligence.

"And not only that, David Kay, who went over to kind of lead the effort to find the weapons or the intent of weapons, came back with a report that clearly stated that Saddam Hussein had been in material breach of resolution 1441; in other words, had the inspectors found what Kay found, they would have reported back to the United Nations that he was in breach, that he was in violation of exactly what the United Nations expected him not to do.

"Nobody could say that Saddam Hussein wasn't a danger. I mean, not only was he a danger to the free world, I mean, and that's what the world said. The world said it consistently.

"And he's a danger to his own people as well. Remember, we discovered mass graves with hundreds of thousands of men and women, and children, clutching their little toys, as a result of this person's brutality."

On whether he believed the claim that Iraq could unleash weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes:

"Well, I believed a lot of things, but I know he was a dangerous man, and I know that for the sake of security he needed to be dealt with."

On the criticism that the coalition was not well enough prepared for keeping the peace after winning the war:

"We look at all contingencies and are dealing with the contingencies.

"What has happened is that, in a relatively small part of the country, there are Baathists... they are attacking, and they're attacking not only coalition forces, they're attacking innocent Iraqis because what they're trying to do is stop the spread of progress. This is nothing more than a power grab.

"Now there are some foreign fighters, Mujahideen types or al Qaeda. They've got a different mission - they want to install a Taliban-type government in Iraq, or they want to seek revenge for getting whipped in Afghanistan."

On whether the coalition was taken by surprise by the foreign fighters:

"A lot of those people who came in initially have, wish they hadn't come in initially. They're not wishing at all right now, but no, I, we understood it was going to be tough. The tactics shift depending upon the decisions of the enemy, and we're making progress. That's not to say it's not tough. Of course it's tough.

"But what they want to do is they want to shake the will of the free world, and the good news about having a partner like Tony Blair is he won't be shaken, you see, and neither will I. And neither will Jose Maria Aznar. "

Could Saddam be behind the attacks on the coalition forces?

"We did the Iraqi people a great favour by removing him, and so I wouldn't be surprised that any kind of violence is promoted by him, but I don't know. All I know is we're after him."

On those who question the solution of regime change:

"I can understand their concerns except they forgot the history. This issue has been discussed in the United Nations for over a decade, and the United Nations, as a kind of multilateral international body, passed resolution after resolution after resolution calling for Saddam Hussein to disarm. In other words, the diplomatic process went forward."

On his assertion that Israel and Palestine should exist as two separate states "side-by-side in peace":

"I believe it is in Israel's interest that there be a peaceful Palestinian state. And I know it's in the Palestinians' interest. However, to achieve a peaceful Palestinian state, the emergence of a peaceful Palestinian state, a state where people are willing to risk capital, a place where people are willing to develop an economy, there must be a focused effort to defeat terror. And there hasn't been with the current Palestinian leadership."

On what will happen to the British nationals being held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay:

"The good news is, one, they'll be treated fairly, like they are. And, two, I'm working closely with Tony [Blair] to come up with a solution that he's comfortable with - and I emphasise a solution that he's comfortable with. These prisoners are being treated - these were illegal non-combatants picked up off of a battlefield. They will go through a military tribunal at some point in time, which is a military tribunal which is in international accord, or in line with international accords."

On his most important lessons learned from the presidency:

"Have a clear vision of where you want to lead, and lead."


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